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Establishment of plantations

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Selection of site

When black pepper is grown in slopes, the slopes facing south should be avoided and the lower half of northern and north eastern slopes preferred for planting so that the vines are not subjected to the scorching effect of the southern sun during summer. Preparation of land and planting standards With the receipt of the first rain in May-June, primary stem cuttings of Erythina sp.(Murukku) or Garuga pinnata (kilinjil)  or Grevillea robusta (silver oak) are planted in pits of 50 cm x 50 cm x 50 cm size filled with cow dung and top soil, at a spacing of 3 m x 3 m which would accommodate about 1110 standards per hectare (Seedlings of Alianthus malabarica  (Matti) can also be planted and the black pepper vines can be trailed on it after 3 years when they attain sufficient height). Whenever E. indica is used as standard, application of phorate 10 G @ 30 g may be done twice a year (May/June and September/October) to control nematodes and stem and root borer. When E. indica and G. pinnata are used, the primary stems are cut in March/April and stacked in shade in groups. The stacked stems start sprouting in May. The stems are planted in the edge of the pits dug for planting black pepper vines.


Pits of 50 cm3  at a distance of 30 cm away from the base, on the northern side of supporting tree are taken with the onset of monsoon. The pits are filled with a mixture of top soil, farmyard manure @ five kg/pit and 150 g rock phosphate. Neem cake @ one kg and Trichoderma harzianum @ 50 g also may be mixed with the mixture at the time of planting. With the onset of monsoon, two-three rooted cuttings of black pepper are planted individually in the pits on the northern side of each standard. At least one node of the cutting should be kept below the soil for better anchorage.

Cultural practices

As the cuttings grow, the shoots are tied to the standards as often as required. The young vines should be protected from hot sun during summer by providing artificial shade. Regulation of shade by lopping the branches of standards is necessary not only for providing optimum light to the vines but also for enabling the standards to grow straight. Adequate mulch with green leaf or organic matter should be applied towards the end of North East monsoon. The base of the vines should not be disturbed so as to avoid root damage. During the second year, the same cultural practices are repeated. However, lopping of standards should be done carefully from the fourth year onwards, not only to regulate height of the standards, but also to shade the black pepper vines optimally. Lopping may be done twice (during June and September) in a year. Excessive shading during flowering and fruiting encourages pest infestations. From the fourth year, two diggings are usually given, one during May-June, and the other towards the end of south-west monsoon in October-November. Growing cover crops like  Calapogonium mucunoides and Mimosa invisa are also recommended under West Coast conditions as an effective soil cover to prevent soil erosion during rainy season. Further, they dry during summer, leaving thick organic mulch. Manuring and fertilizer application Manuring and fertilizer application for pepper vines is to be done for black proper establishment and growth of plants.  Recommended nutrient dosage for black pepper vines (3 years and above) are as follows.
NPK 50:50: 150 grams/vine/year (General recommendation)
NPK 50:50: 200 grams/vine/year (for Panniyur and similar areas)
NPK 140:55: 270 grams/vine/year (for Kozhikode and similar areas)
Only one-third of this dosage should be applied during the first year which is increased to two-thirds in the second year. The full dose is given from the third year onwards. It is better to apply the fertilizers in two split doses, one in May-June and the other in August- September. The fertilizers are applied at a distance of about 30 cm all around the vine and covered with a thick layer of soil. Care should be taken to avoid direct contact of fertilizers with roots of black pepper. Organic manures in the form of cattle manure or compost can be given @ 10 kg/vine during May. Neem cake @ 1 kg/vine can also be applied. Application of lime @ 500 g/vine in April-May during alternate years is also recommended. When biofertilizer like Azospirillum is applied @ 100 grams/vine, the recommended nitrogen dose may be reduced by half to 70 g/vine. In soils that are deficient in zinc or magnesium, foliar application of 0.25 per cent  zinc sulphate twice a year (May-June and September-October) and soil application of 150 grams/vine magnesium sulphate, respectively is recommended.